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Falcon Heavy and Starlink headline SpaceX's forthcoming manifesto – NASASpaceFlight.com

With the all-important Demo-1 launch complete, SpaceX has quickly begun to convert Pad 39A to cope with the Falcon Heavy flight. The launch supplier is not expected to fly one without two Falcon Heavy missions within the next few months as part of an exciting manifesto that also includes the first dedicated Starlink mission. Almost immediately after the Demo-1 launch, SpaceX technicians were back to work on Pad 39A to reconfigure the Falcon 9 holder clips to the Falcon Heavy configuration. The reaction frame – which supports the base of the rocket during the countdown – requires four retaining clips for Falcon 9 and eight hold down clamps for Falcon Heavy. The two Falcon 9 holds the clips circled in red removed for Falcon Heavy. Six further added. Credit: NSF Forum With Falcon Heavy's Arabsat 6A mission next from the pad, SpaceX works fast to perform the conversion. In the future, SpaceX hopes to convert from Falcon 9 to Falcon Heavy setup in just one week, but it is understood that it can take some practice to reach that speed. As stated, the launch supplier is sure that it will be ready to support the Arabsat 6A mission in early April. However, there is a chance that the payload will not be ready in time – possibly delaying the assignment further. Unfortunately, delays with the Arabsat 6A task are likely to be transferred to STP-2 – the second Falcon Heavy launch from Pad 39A in 2019. This mission is currently…

With the all-important Demo-1 launch complete, SpaceX has quickly begun to convert Pad 39A to cope with the Falcon Heavy flight. The launch supplier is not expected to fly one without two Falcon Heavy missions within the next few months as part of an exciting manifesto that also includes the first dedicated Starlink mission.

Almost immediately after the Demo-1 launch, SpaceX technicians were back to work on Pad 39A to reconfigure the Falcon 9 holder clips to the Falcon Heavy configuration.

The reaction frame – which supports the base of the rocket during the countdown – requires four retaining clips for Falcon 9 and eight hold down clamps for Falcon Heavy.

The two Falcon 9 holds the clips circled in red removed for Falcon Heavy. Six further added. Credit: NSF Forum

With Falcon Heavy’s Arabsat 6A mission next from the pad, SpaceX works fast to perform the conversion. In the future, SpaceX hopes to convert from Falcon 9 to Falcon Heavy setup in just one week, but it is understood that it can take some practice to reach that speed.

As stated, the launch supplier is sure that it will be ready to support the Arabsat 6A mission in early April. However, there is a chance that the payload will not be ready in time – possibly delaying the assignment further.

Unfortunately, delays with the Arabsat 6A task are likely to be transferred to STP-2 – the second Falcon Heavy launch from Pad 39A in 2019. This mission is currently scheduled for June and will re-use the side performers from the Arabsat 6A mission. Therefore, SpaceX needs time to renovate the two boosters between flights.

However, it is important to note that despite reports that all three cores from Arabsat 6A would be reused for STP-2, NASASpaceflight.com understands that the mission will actually use a completely new center core.

Falcon Heavy Center Core B1055 at the test site in McGregor Credit: Gary Blair for NSF L2

Arabsat 6A will contain all new cores with side stimulators B1052 and B1053 and center core B1055. STP-2 will then have the second flight B1052 and B1053 together with the B1057 – a brand new center core.

The existence of a second center nucleus is meaningful, since B1055’s landing under Arabsat 6A is likely to be one of SpaceX’s most challenging so far. Due to Falcon Heavy’s flight profile, booster will reach higher than normal speed. Consequently, booster will make a warm reentry and land on OCISLY nearly 1,000 miles downhill – making it superior to the ultimate recovery attempt in SpaceX’s history.

Therefore, by having a second center core for STP-2, SpaceX will eliminate the risk of a significant delay if the B1055 is lost or requires significant refurbishment.

If Arabsat 6A payload is ready for launch in the near future, it will probably be the next mission that SpaceX executes. The next Falcon 9 launch will not take place until April 25th.

It is currently no earlier than the date of the CRS-17 – a Dragon Resupply mission to the International Space Station. If the CRS-17 were to be launched on April 25, the launch would occur just before sunrise at 6:20 pm east.

CRS-17 is expected to include a brand new Falcon 9 first stage – likely B1056 – and will include a first stage landing on Landing Zone 1.

In addition, SpaceX recently launched FCC licenses as needed to support a Falcon 9 launch from the SLC-40 and a recovery at OCISLY. Droneship will be located approximately 600 kilometers down to the northeast. Interestingly, it is not a SpaceX customer on the nearest manifesto with a payload that would require such a path.

NASASpaceflight.com now understands that this is the first dedicated flight to SpaceX’s proposed low-ground Internet constellation called Starlink.

Two Starlink demonstration satellites named Tintin A and Tintin B were launched from Vandenberg in February last year as rideshares with the Paz mission.

However, this time the launch is expected to be dedicated to Starlink. Given that the droneship’s position will be over 600 kilometers down, the flight is expected to require a significant performance from Falcon 9. As a result, SpaceX is likely to fly several Starlink spacecrafts as opposed to just two.

Tintin A & B demonstration satellites via SpaceX

From now on, the Starlink mission is provisionally planned to occur no earlier than mid-May.

Around the same time, SpaceX is expected to launch the long-awaited Radarsat Constellation Mission. As of last year, the mission was planned to start as early as February 2019. However, in December of December, Falcon 9 first stage B1050 did not land on Landing Zone 1 after starting CRS-16. This was problematic, as the second flight of that booster was slated to be the Radarsat mission.

Consequently, the mission disappeared until another first stage became available. It is now understood that B1051 has been assigned to fly Radarsat, although this may change. B1051 is the same core that flew the Demo-1 mission this weekend.

In June, SpaceX is scheduled to fly missions AMOS-17 and STP-2.

AMOS-17 is the replacement satellite for AMOS-6 that was lost in an anomaly during a static fire in 2016. The mission is currently planned to have an airborne Falcon 9.

Crew Dragon’s abortion test on aircraft is revealed also for June according to NASA’s public Commercial Crew schedule. However, the test of Crew Dragon’s abortion system is expected to slide deeper into the summer.

Likewise, the Demo-2 test flight – which will be the first crew’s Crew Dragon – is heading towards late summer to a great extent. This is an expected glide from the currently official schedule of July 2019.

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